Jury finds woman guilty in homeless tax scam

FOX 5 I-Team investigates

Jury finds woman guilty in homeless tax scam

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ATLANTA -

An Atlanta woman accused of scamming the homeless and stealing tax dollars was found guilty on Friday.

The FOX 5 I-Team first exposed Genesis Tax Service owner Cora Ford's scam years ago.

Prosecutors identified 19 victims during this week's trial, but they are certain there are many more. They still can't figure out why someone caught red-handed in the I-Team hidden camera video would insist on pulling the same scam years later.

In 2007, FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis showed Ford urging the homeless to apply for what she called a special government homeless grant. She promised that in exchange for your name, birth date and social security number, she'd make sure you got $200.

The government had no such grant, but Ford suddenly had a lot of personal information from a lot of trusting people.

Prosecutor said that Ford would take homeless people's Social Security numbers and file fake tax returns and then deposit real tax refunds into her own account, often leaving her victims in worse financial shape.

"Many of them were receiving Social Security disability benefits," said Steven Grimberg of the U.S. Attorney's Office. "We heard stories during the trial of folks who had their benefits taken away or reduced because of the fraudulent tax return that had been filed in their name."

The FOX 5 I-Team report first aired six years ago, but the federal case involves crimes starting in 2010, meaning that even after she was caught, Ford never stopped the scam.

"To the credit of your news station, you shed light on what she was doing. And it is amazing that despite that and despite the fact that you interviewed her on camera and asked her whether she was filing fraudulent returns that she had the audacity to keep doing it," Grimberg.

Prosecutors say this sort of crime has reached a crisis point across the country, with the Internal Revenue Service investigating hundreds of similar cases.

Ford did not testify. She's due back in December for sentencing.

Click the video above to watch FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis' latest report.

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